GLUTEN FREE SPORTS NUTRITION 101
Gluten free pre and post training snack ideas
As a dietitian with coeliac disease and training as an endurance-based athlete, food is either a topic of conversation or on my mind for a good portion of the day. Being gluten free is the only cure for coeliac disease at this point in time. Coeliac disease is a genetic medical condition that results from exposure to gluten – a protein fraction found in wheat, rye, barley and oats; an environmental trigger and an autoimmune response. It affects many organs of the body including the small intestine (gastrointestinal tract) where by consuming gluten causes inflammation. This interferes with the absorption of nutrients and causes damage to other organs and systems, including the bones. By following a strict, lifelong gluten free diet it prevents further damage and encourages the small intestine lining to return to normal so that nutrients in foods can be properly absorbed.
Regarding sports performance and being gluten free, to get the best out of a training session I'm a strong believer in planning your food intake around your training sessions.
So does being gluten free means I cut out all carbohydrates?
Carbohydrate is an important fuel for most athletes and is especially important for those participating in endurance-based sports like triathlon, ultra racing, adventure racing and more. Breads and cereals are good sources of carbohydrate BUT most typical breads and cereals are NOT gluten free. Naturally gluten free carbohydrates include all fruit and starchy vegetables, rice, rice noodles, rice thins and rice crackers, and then all the processed/baked gluten free breads and pastas and cereals.
Some of my pre trainer GF carbohydrate snack ideas include:
- A piece of fruit or fruit salad
- Rice crackers + natural peanut butter + honey +/- sliced banana
- Carmans Gluten Free Muesli Bar (not a nut bar)
- 1 slice gluten free fruit toast +/- 1 tsp jam
- Buckwheat pikelet (pre-mix available to buy and pre cooked) + 1 tsp jam
- Dried fruits such as dried apple, apricot, mango, sultanas etc.
To stimulate the recovery process straight after a hard training session it is recommended to get in a combination of carbohydrates and protein to help the muscles rebuild and adapt to the training session. All food protein sources are typically naturally gluten free and include all meats, eggs, dairy (cheese, milk, yoghurt), nuts, legumes, plain tofu (some sauces and marinades can contain traces of gluten so check the labels)
Quick GF recovery food ideas for after training if it is >1hr before my next meal include:
- Chobani yoghurt, fruit flavoured for some extra carbohydrate
- Milk + fruit smoothie +/- yoghurt
- Rice crackers with cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
- A nut bar (Brands- Nice and Natural, Go Natural, Carmens)
- Pick & Mix nut & dried fruit trail mix
- Piece of fruit + Plain Yoghurt+ small handful of nuts
- Rice Crackers + low fat hummus
- Tuna and bean/corn snack packs
- Milk + Nesquik (Nesquik is gluten free!)